It was almost a case of the last man standing for the top competitors at the One Hour ASKO Endurance Series race at the Mike Pero Motorsport Park in Christchurch on Saturday. Neil Foster driving the stunning Audi R8 LMS was quickest in qualifying and was able to convert this to a dominant race win at the second round of the series.
Second across the line was the Sam Fillmore/Danny Stutterd Porsche 997 GT3 only to be disqualified due to breaching a regulation. This promoted a delighted Tim O'Connor, driving the striking Ferrari 458 Challenge Cup car, to second and Danny Whiting's new Porsche 911 to third.
'It's great to have a win,' commented Foster. 'It was an 'untidy' race with so many cars out there and yellow flags but the team was great, able to tell me what was up ahead. The car was just so smooth to drive without any problems at all, other than I had a half spin at the hairpin in the first 20 minutes.'
Retirements, accidents and drive through penalties ultimately had a major impact on determining the outcome of a very entertaining 60 minutes.
Quick in qualifying and for the first two-thirds of the race was Aucklander Hugh Gardiner. Gardiner led the 48 car field and lapped all but 11 of the cars until he came in contact with a slower driver, damaging a radiator and having to withdraw.
'Overtaking so many cars at such a speed differential will ultimately mean a contact of some kind and that's what happened to us,' said Gardiner. 'I don't think the other fellow saw me. It's quite disappointing because to win the series you have to finish every round.'
The twin turbo-charged Porsche 996 GT2 TT of Grant Silvester/Mike Bushell Silverster moved into the lead only to face retirement as well.
'Something in the drive train went, we think,' commented Silvester. 'Just after we took the lead there was a bang and that was that.'
This handed the lead to Fillmore/ Stutterd pairing but they still had to make their compulsory pitstop. With twelve minutes to go they undertook the change relinguishing the lead to Foster's Audi. When Stutterd took over he immediately had to return to the pits to undertake a drive through penalty. Returning to the track in fifth place there was then a fight on for the podium places behind Foster.
Stutterd had Whiting, Russell McKenzie (Porsche 997 GT3) and O'Connor's Ferrari in close procession ahead of him with ten minutes remaining. With McKenzie spinning out and retiring with two laps left, Stutterd's speed and momentum took the #23 Porsche to cross the line second, ahead of O'Connor, only to be disqualified.
After campaigning for a number of years in the series, O'Connor couldn't contain the thrill of a podium finish.
'I'm chuffed,' said O'Connor. 'It was so hard, so the second place feels great as this is what racing is all about. I really enjoyed the race today.'
Whiting was happy with third for the round while ruing a drive through penalty. 'I lost 30 seconds in the 'drive-through' which in the end could have been second place,' commented Whiting. 'In saying that, I'm rapt with third. Starting from 10th, there was a bit of work to do but an enjoyable race with a lot of passing.'
Class 1 (3501cc+) honours went to the Chev Corvette CS of Brian Scott ahead of Johnny Waldron's Nissan Skyline R32. Scott had won the opening Teretonga round from class favourite Chris Henderson. Starting from the second row, Henderson grabbed the race lead on the first lap before being overtaken by the faster GT cars and then losing a wheel after five laps.
Mike Driver (Seat Leon Supercopar) won Class 2 (2001cc-3500cc) from Andrew Wright (BMW E36 M3) and Guy Stewart (Porsche 911 IROC). Teretonga class winners Pat and Ryan Heagney (Toyota AE86 turbo) weren't able to back up their win, retiring after 23 laps.
Class 3&4 (0-2000cc) honours went to Gary Ponting (Honda EF Civic) ahead of round one winner Grant Aitken (Toyota GT86) and Daniel Cropp (Honda Civic SIR).
The next round of the three round series takes place at Timaru International Motor Raceway on Saturday 17 October.
Timelapse video of the new Audi R8 livery.
International Motorsport drivers have clinched both the 3 Hour and 1 Hour Championships!
International Motorsport drivers have clinched the overall win in both the 3 Hour and 1 Hour races as well as Class 1 win in the 3 hour.
International Motorsport driver Matt Whittaker has clinched the 2015/16 New Zealand Porsche Championship
Interview with Nick Williamson about endurance racing with International Motorsport.
International Motorsport driver Neil Foster grabs podium in New Zealand 1 hour endurance championship.